The holiday season is here, and while that might mean taking time to celebrate with loved ones, it also provides an opportunity to give back and make others around the community feel special as well.
It goes without saying that D-League players, like all professional athletes, maintain commitments to make community appearances and interact with fans in different ways throughout the season. Nevertheless, there have been a handful who have been even more charitable with their time this month. The life of a D-League isn't always glamorous, but plenty of them still realize the fortunate position they're in, and that helping others is still very much in their power.
An NBA veteran of eight seasons, Ronnie Brewer has not only made a splash on the court in Surf City for the Warriors, but off of it as well. In hopes of making it a special Christmas for those who may have needed a helping hand, Brewer and his Santa Cruz teammates "adopted" two local families to see that they had presents to open on the morning of. In addition to donating a good amount of his own money to the cause, Brewer also kept his roots in mind; the guard ran an Arkansas toy drive through his foundation.
Like Brewer, Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Tre Kelley understands the value of giving back. A basketball journeyman of over six seasons, Kelley is back in Sioux Falls after spending last season overseas. With that in mind, the returning player has a connection to the local community. During a recent trip to the Keystone Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (which provides caring, comprehensive addiction and dual diagnosis rehabilitation for adolescents and adults), Kelley stayed longer than expended, donating his own time to spend with the patients. Perhaps attempting to provide some motivation, Kelley shared his own story about his difficult upbringing. But the relationship didn't end there. When the same group attended a Skyforce game soon after, Kelley visited with them after the game to answer questions and interact, all the while still in his uniform. The guard wants to continue his relationship with the center as they look to care for incoming groups, too.
Over in Maine, the likes of Levi Randolph, Malcolm Miller, Ella Ellis and Kevin Young took part in the Red Claws' most recent Read to Achieve program, visiting local elementary schools. Ellis, an inspiration for many as Army's second professional player of all-time, has been a very influential presence in the local community during his first minor league season. The 24 year old and his Red Claws teammates participated in a recent Salvation Army Kettle Drive as well.
Plenty of other D-League teams, coaches, and players have aimed to make their presence felt in the local communites. Knowing that they would be on the road during this stretch, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers were among those getting a head start on spreading holiday cheer. The team visited the local Salvation Army on Thanksgiving Day, which served 1,000 meals on the holiday. RGV served and sang Christmas carols with the kids.
Regardless of what level, professional athletes are undoubtedly in a special position to help others, especially during the holiday season. It's great to see so many D-League players and respective staffs embracing that and doing what they can.